Scuba Explorer Community
Nitrox Diving on the Scuba Explorer Phuket liveaboard
We highly recommend that when diving with us on the Scuba Explorer you dive on nitrox, during our cruises we do 4 to 5 dives per day, and nitrox will not only make you feel better and less tired when doing this many dives, it is also much safer and just generally better for you!
What Is Nitrox Diving?
Nitrox, simply refers to having a higher percentage of oxygen in your scuba tank, sometimes refereed to as a blend, NOX or EANX. Humans breathe air, and normal air is 21% oxygen, 79% Nitrogen, that is the same gas percentages we breathe underwater from our scuba tanks and it is the high percentage of nitrogen that causes us problems as divers. The main issue is that we can only absorb a certain amount of nitrogen while diving, this is how/why your computer calculates bottom time for your dive, and why you can run out of bottom time before running out of air. Excess Nitrogen is also the primary culprit when it comes to decompression sickness or diving related illness.
So if you can use a higher percentage of oxygen in your scuba tank, guess what? That’s right, you can increase your computers bottom time, decrease your surface intervals and also lower your risk of decompression sickness, as there will be less nitrogen to dissolve out of your body, because you simply absorbed less on your dives by breathing a higher oxygen percentage.
You may now be asking, why don’t we always dive on Nitrox if the advantages of enriched air diving are this awesome? Well the answer is simply that you need to be a certified Enriched Air Diver via PADI or one of the other training agencies to use Nitrox while scuba diving. Nitrox has it’s own pitfalls and peculiarities which you will learn about on the course, you’ll also learn how to handle and identify nitrox tanks, how to analyse the contents of a nitrox tank and how to set your dive computer to use the correct gas mixture when diving with nitrox.
Nitrox Certification – 4,000 THB
If you do not have a Nitrox certification we recommend completing it onboard with us. We offer the PADI Enriched Air Diver certification for a meager 4,000 THB including 2 dives on Nitrox.
The course takes about 2 hours and is by far the most essential certification you should do and have as a scuba diver, plus you will never find a cheaper way to do some nitrox diving, than doing it onboard with us and you certainly won’t find a better location or better instructors than we have for you!
Certified Nitrox Divers
If you are already a certified Nitrox Diver, we offer it as an added option for your dives on the Scuba Explorer, but you need to let us know when you make your booking if you wish to dive on Nitrox while onboard one of our cruises. Nitrox fills are 250 THB per dive, per tank, if you want Nitrox over the course of the entire trip, we will lower the price to 200 THB per dive, per tank.
If you want to know more about Enriched Air diving, Nitrox, EANX, you can read more about it by following this link, PADI Enriched Air Diver course.
Scuba diving equipment
With out some equipment to help us dive we are going to have a very bad time chasing Whale Sharks or Manta Rays, with a BCD a Regulator, a mask and some fins our day is going to get a lot better. Diving equipment, is not included in the package prices, you have to rent it separately for the duration of the trip you book.
The reason it is not included in your package price is that many liveaboard divers have and travel with their own diving equipment, so why pay for something you are not using? Renting your equipment independently of the trip price helps keep the price of the liveaboard packages nice and low.
To make things as simple as possible, we of course offer gear rental, so when making a booking, we will definitely ask you to let us know exactly which pieces of equipment you will need. Weight Belts, Weights, Surface Marker Buoy & Tanks are included. So if you have absolutely zero bits of your own equipment, this is what you need to rent and how much it will cost per day.
Night diving onboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboard
Night diving is one of, if not, the best form of diving ever conceived in the great minds of the divers that have come before us. Someone somewhere once jumped into the dark murky waters of the ocean at night with probably nothing more than a torch wrapped in duct tape to go in search of the reefs night time critters and wonders.
Thankfully night diving today is a lot less troublesome and is offered as an optional dive at the end of each day while you are onboard the Scuba Explorer. Our guides and Instructors are always willing to do these dives, so definitely ask them, most of the time they will probably be attempting to convince you to do one because it’s an amazing chance to see creatures that only come out onto the reef once the sun sets.
Night diving is exciting and completely safe, our guides and instructors are the best Phuket has to offer and safety is always their primary concern. Torches are provided for the night dives and your guide will have back-up lights just in case. When there a bigger groups of night divers the reef can be lit up like a Christmas tree for your viewing pleasure.
Scuba Explorer deluxe cabin
Details about the decks and cabins onboard the Scuba Explorer
Check out the detailed views from inside the Scuba Explorer before even getting onboard, the layout is pretty simple and the spaces for your comfort are also very large, so come join us for an amazing luxury liveaboard holiday from Phuket to one of our amazing liveaboard destinations!
(1) Sun deck
(2) Outside lounge area, (3) Indoor lounge and refreshment bar, (4) Tour leader’s cabin, (5) Captain’s cabin, (6) Crew cabin (7) Wheelhouse
Manta Ray at Koh Tachai in the Similan Islands
Diving on Koh Tachai is fun at the best of times, it can even become an awesome leg work out if the current is up to its usual tricks, which is to say, going bananas, but this day turned interesting when I was invited to play Tag with a Giant Manta Ray around the pinnacle.
We hadn’t been in the water very long and had slowly made our way to the North West side to look for Mantas, I went out a little deeper and away from the group in the hope of attracting some curious critters for the group to watch, but after a few minutes of fighting the current I decided I would be much happier looking for Octopus in between boulders, I turned around to swim back and my entire group of divers started pointing behind me.
When this happens it is a real poop your pants moment, your brain immediately thinks Tiger Shark and you get the sense you are now in a Hollywood film and what-ever you do, don’t turn around to look at the bad thing behind you. Thankfully this isn’t Hollywood though and my divers had spotted a Manta, literally in the moment I choose not to look, they appear.
This Manta was very playful and made some close passes by me, one of which he decided he like the cut of my jib and got a cordial invite to play tag with him, a little tap on the head.
Check it out, but watch closely for the camera shake, enjoy!
Whale Shark in the Similan Islands
The day had been fairly awesome already, we’d seen two Whale Sharks in the space of a couple hours at Richelieu Rock and we were hanging around on the North side looking for big schools of pelagic fish like Trevallies, Snapper and Barracuda, then out of nowhere a rather large and somewhat un-lucky Whale Shark tried to give me a big ol kiss.
If you watch the video closely it appears this poor guy is also blind on his left side, which is probably why he got so close to me, and because I was hanging silently in the water, not breathing too many bubbles or moving much if at all.
Big hint there guys for close encounters, stay still and chilled! The big guys are super inquisitive and will happily buzz past you if they think you are not a threat.
Anyway I got the whole thing on video, check it out.
Packing for liveaboard trips
Planning for a holiday or cruise can sometimes take up as much time as the holiday itself, by the time you’ve figured out you brought 7 different wall chargers none of which fit the socket, it’s to late. So let me help you guys and girls out with a quick rundown of things you should bring on our liveaboard trips and things you need not worry about.
The Scuba Explorer is a cut above the competition when it comes to onboard service, our guests are top priority and we treat you like you’ve booked into a five star hotel. That being the case means there is not a huge amount of need to travel heavy when joining us on trips, we have everything covered, so that you can relax.
We provide each guest with 2 towels, free fresh water, juice, soft drinks, coffee & tea oh and this season he beer is also free, in fact the only paid for beverages are the bottles of fine wine we have onboard. Fully stocked biscuit jars, bread, condiments and fruit. Fully equipped first aid and med kit.
Food is a great buffet style selection of Thai, Japanese and Western dishes. You get Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, plus brunch and a mid-afternoon snack to keep you fueled up for diving. There is no need to bring your own food onboard, but sugary snacks are always welcome if you like to share.
So what should you bring?
West of Eden is a beautiful mixture of granite boulders and coral gardens intertwined, it is part of the Similan Islands, near to Island 7. This is another deep dive site with many of the rare and interesting critters that make this location a must dive, found at depths of 25-30m. This dive site is also known for the famous ‘big green monster’ a particularly nasty thermo-cline bringing with it freezing (well 23°C) temperatures, 5m visibility and current, this does pass though and you are not in it for long.
Your dive guide will lead you along the main channel, looking in the sand for Spearing Mantis Shrimp a rather wonderful and powerful creature with spear like claws to catch their prey, on the walls for many colourful Nudibranchs and Network Pipefish or in the corals for the tiny Tiger Egg Cowrie. Also often seen on this dive site are very rare and beautiful Ribbon Eels sticking out from the sand, the black ones are juvenile in both sexes, changing to blue for the males and yellow for the females as they get older.
The picturesque coral gardens are a perfect place to end this dive, not only are they shallow they also house some fantastic fish life from Yellow Tail Fusilier to Orange Stripe Trigger fish, you may also encounter the colourful Clown Trigger fish. West of Eden offers a diverse range of marine life making it a spectacular dive and a favourite among many a diver.
Hanging out with the night critters
Elephant Head Rock is a dive site in the Similan Islands on island number 8, as with most of the dive sites in the Similans it is named after the shapes the rocks make above the water, so called as it is thought to look like the top of the head of an Elephant with its trunk coming out of the water, although it is hard to see. This dive site is a great first morning dive where you may be able to catch an early glimpse of the sleeping White Tip Reef Sharks before they are scared away by snorkelers.
A favourite amongst many dive professional of the Similan Islandss dive sites and it is easy to see why. With all the giant boulders creating excellent swim throughs, each instructor has their own route around the site. Along the way you encounter Phylidia and Chromodoris Nudibranchs, Starry Dragonet Gobies, Red Toothed Trigger fish, Trevallies, Snapper and Wrasse.
Keep an eye on the ground to see the camouflaged Sea Moth often seen in pairs walking along the floor, or under rocks to spot the shy and wonderful Octopus, if you are lucky enough to see them swimming and changing colour to the rocks it is a fantastic sight. The swim throughs are certainly the highlight of this dive presenting many photo opportunities and a great chance to test your buoyancy skills.
This is a great chance to practice your buoyancy as you swim through the gaps in the boulders, some of them a smaller than others, adding excitement to the dive. Finish the dive with the safety stop on top of the boulders where you may get another chance to see White Tip Reef Sharks or Barracuda.
Koh Tachai Pinnacle (or Twin Peaks) is known for its impressive boulders, beautiful coral gardens and crazy currents, this makes it one of the most exciting dives on the Similan Islands liveaboard cruise. You descend down the buoy line on the east side of the pinnacle, using your arms to pull you down the rope as the current takes the rest of your body forcing you horizontal, make sure to hold onto your mask if you turn around to look behind you else the current can take it. Once down your dive guide will find ways around the pinnacle hiding you from the currents, weaving in and out of the massive granite boulders. The currents not only make for an interesting dive, they also bring with them the big fish which make this site a must to dive.
Schools of Long-fin Bat fish hang around nonplussed by the divers around them, huge schools of circling Barracuda on top of this pinnacle make a beautiful photo opportunity as you look up at them silhouetted in the light of the sun through the ocean ceiling. Giant Trevally, Tuna and Napoleon Wrasse are frequent here. As well as the graceful Manta Ray magically swimming back and forth, it is such an amazing sight that you will want to make more than one dive here.
The beautiful coral gardens on the north side of the pinnacle have some hidden wonders in them, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Hawksbill Turtles, Sea Snakes, Devil Scorpion fish to name but a few. Explore the powerful granite boulders or the colourful corals, or just hang in the current holding onto the tops of the rock waiting for Mantas to pass you by, whatever dive you do you will love Koh Tachai Pinnacle.